Hometown: Mifflintown, Pennsylvania
What school did/do you attend? Regis College, Boston College, UCLA, UBC
Do you work? yes
What is your career goal(s)? I’m a writer/editor
How did you find out you were sick? What event(s) led to the diagnosis?
I had detected a lump in my breast, but my doctor told me that I was too young to have breast cancer and sent me on my way. three months later, I went back in because it was getting bigger. This time, there was another doctor who examined me because my regular doctor wasn’t in the office. She ordered an ultrasound, which led to a mammogram, which led to a core biopsy. I had three tumours spanning the size of 6 cm in my right breast.
What year was it? What was your age at the time? July 2007, 31 years old
At what level of education were you at diagnosis? grad student, but I already have masters (from UCLA). I’m completing my second masters now.
What was your diagnosis? Stage III breast cancer
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed? “No way”
How did your family react? Shock
How did your friends react? Were you treated any different? A lot of my friends got scared because I had no family history of breast cancer, and I was quite young, so a lot of their thoughts were of the vein, “it could happen to me.”
What did your treatment consist of?
I started on a chemo trial–six months of aggressive chemo–followed by two months of daily radiation, then a double mastectomy with reconstructive TRAM-flap surgery and then further reconstructive surgery. It was brutal, especially because at the same time, I still had to be mom to two young children. But luckily, I had a lot of support.
In which Hospital(s) are/were you treated? BCCA and Mt. St. Joseph’s
What is your current medical status? One year of remission thus far
How is life different for you now post diagnosis (physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually)?
It took me a while to reintegrate back into “normal” life, and just when I thought things were going well, my spouse confessed that he had had an affair while I was recovering. So I’ve been having to deal with that challenge, and it seems like life keeps coming at me at a supersonic speed.
What was the toughest part of your challenge? That’s hard to say!
What was the best part about having your challenge? Being forced to pick myself up
What really motivated you to keep going while you were/are sick? My kids
What lessons or messages have you taken away from your experience? To live life
What are some (if there are any you know of) preventative measures that people can take to lower their risk of having an experience like yours? I’m the wrong person to answer that question, I think! 🙂
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?
I went to Friends for Life and Inspire Health to help me during my treatment, and yes, it was extremely helpful.
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer Canada?
My oncologist suggested that I contact this org after my last follow-up last month. She was mostly concerned about how I am coping with life post-cancer.